Monday, October 3, 2022

CQD; SOS; ETC; LOL

The rowboat is leaking. I'm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There’s a sandbar up ahead.

Made it.

The ratty old duffle bag holds emergency supplies: the infamous “desert island” physical media.

I discovered what was in my hastily-packed bag.

My discipline held to one of each:

Music: Carmina Burana
Movie: Metropolis


Darn.

I just realized that while I had remembered to pack a disc player, I forgot the a/c (alternating current) plug and adaptor.

I cheated in that I had packed quite a few books: Kafka; Allen; Hesse; Kerouac; “The English Channel” (Calder); “The Pearl” (Steinbeck); “The Mysterious Island” (Verne); “Roy Hinkley’s Guide to Making Coconut-based Electronics”....


A Forever Question: Alley Cats

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Can one have fun at a bowling ball?






Sunday, October 2, 2022

I Hail Cesare!

Lee was a character. He still may be; I lost contact with him a few years ago. "Irreverent" is a word Lee would have called into being if it had not already existed.

One day over beers in the local pub Lee and I shot the breeze about our sports backgrounds. As we sat on our stools at the bar I told Lee that I had been a teenage hockey goaltender. He asked who I fancied myself to be when I stood between the pipes all those years ago. A young ice hockey player "pretending" to be one of his or her idols from the big leagues is natural, almost expected. (For me it was more a pre-teen road hockey thing.)

"Cesare Maniago."

Lee emitted his trademarked laugh, and said, somewhat mockingly: "You must have been a s**t goalie!"

I was not an "inadequate" puck-stop but that unimportant fact did not stop me from drooling a mouthful of beer down my shirt and onto my lap.

Origin: Latin. in 'not' + reverent 'revering'.




Elmer Bernstein on Jerry Goldsmith

"He's the composer I would pick if I were a film's producer."

Mr Bernstein said this in an interview in the 1980s. (Goldsmith died in 2004.)



Saturday, October 1, 2022

Tales of Television Centre (Documentary on the Telly)



Tales of Television Centre gets one nostalgic for a place of work even if one did not work there. The sprawling complex wasn't merely a place of work, just as importantly, as pointed out by several interview subjects, it was a place of immense creativity.

The BBC's Television Centre was a hotbed of television production for over half a century (1960 to 2013), and its ultimate 'reconfiguration' remains a touchy subject for some. "Why?"

With the help of British television entertainment luminaries such as David Frost, Brian Blessed, David Attenborough, Peter Davison, and Terry Wogan, the how, where, and why are covered briskly but with some necessary detail. And with a lot of smiles.

The Centre was a culture all its own. Magic was in and on the air.

I wish I had worked there. (Here in Toronto we have the CBC's boring Canadian Broadcasting Centre. Only in Canada, eh? Pity.) Many presenters (hosts), actors, comics, technicians, designers, writers, and producers are thankful they did. There's that wistful nostalgia one expects to wrap up a documentary titled Tales of Television Centre.


On a humorous final note, I must mention that one thing I found obvious in the building's architectural style was the overall 'Soviet' vibe. This point is brought up by a few interviewees. The similarities are striking. (Does it mean anything?)

Book: TV North (Kenter & Levin)



TV North
- everything you wanted to know about Canadian television -

by
Peter Kenter

with notes by
Martin Levin

Whitecap Books
2001

Picturing: An Unmarked Passenger Jet Takes Off



I love flying, even on unmarked jets. Actually, it's a Bombardier Aerospace "Global 7000" being flight-tested here in Toronto.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Blu-ray: Pink Flamingos



Pink Flamingos

by
John Waters

The Criterion Collection
2022

Book: Europe at War (Davies)



Europe at War
1939-1945
- No Simple Victory -

by
Norman Davies

Pan Books
2007

Monday, September 26, 2022

A Forever Question: Halt!

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Is "Full Stop" anything like "Half Stop"?



Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sunday Fun: No Work Being Done at the Desk



A "film and television" critic and writer I much admire, John Kenneth Muir, some weeks ago posted a blog piece looking at his home office. I was impressed by his large collection of film/tv toys, models, and dolls. I felt insecure as my abode is pretty spartan, at least there's not much in the way of 'geek' elements to reveal too much about my youth.

Recently, while polishing my computer desk, I looked down and noticed bits I'd long blanked-out. One gets used to his or her surroundings and fails to notice what 'signifiers' there are; over and above the layer of dust....

For those readers who may not be familiar with the above photo's captured items, from left to right: U.S.S. Enterprise (from Star Trek); Eric Cartman (South Park), Thunderbird 1 (Thunderbirds).

___

Postscript: I've not seen South Park in years, but I've long wondered if the German translation of South Park's resident kid-grump is "Erich Cartmann".

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Picturing: The Donut Box in Dilemma Form



A client brought the above box of Tim Hortons donuts as a thank you for my hard work tackling an issue. My first reaction, as it did come with a large coffee, was something akin to elation. Then I realized it was a dozen donuts. Of course. It was a big box.

While I do like the odd unscheduled kick of sweets, I'm hardly a 'sweet tooth', nor do I possess the constitution to deal with a load of donuts before they begin to become day-olds. There are three sugar-trips left. Since Sunday I've managed to force down nine donuts. There's a reason I'm skinny and in fine shape. I don't eat a lot of donuts... unless required....

One thing I hate is food waste.

Monday, September 19, 2022

A Forever Question: A Chapter

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Is it the end of an era?



Thursday, September 15, 2022

Battle of Britain Day 2022: Book on the Battle



The Battle of Britain
- The Greatest Battle in the History of Air Warfare -

by
Richard Townshend Bickers

Salamander Books Ltd
1999

Battle of Britain Day 2022: The William Walton Score



Walton
Battle of Britain Suite
- Sir William Walton's film music Vol. 2 -

Sir Neville Marriner Conducts
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields

Chandos Records Ltd
1990

Battle of Britain Day 2022: The Film Scores



Battle of Britain
- Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack -

Music Composed and Conducted by
Ron Goodwin

"Battle in the Air" Composed by
Sir William Walton

Battle of Britain Day 2022: Battle of Britain DVD



Battle of Britain

Directed by
Guy Hamilton

United Artists
1969

Battle of Britain Day 2022: Battle of Britain Film Extras

My dad took me to see Battle of Britain when it hit the CFB Baden-Soellingen movie theatre. We were living in then West Germany, specifically in a small town, surrounded by Germans, which somehow enhanced my movie-going experience. Not only do I love the sound of that language but in this movie the Germans actually speak Deutsche.

To illustrate how big of a deal this movie was at the time, there was a live-from-London television special one evening celebrating its premiere. German television network ARD or ZDF (I can't remember which) picked up the live feed: There were searchlights and men dressed in vintage uniforms manning an ack-ack gun placement. I could hardly wait to see the movie.

Unfortunately, producing-studio and distributor United Artists lost a lot of money on Battle of Britain. The film did not 'travel' much outside of Europe (read: the USA), which it had to do in order to make back the investment. As a tie-in documentary hosted by actor Michael Caine outlined most effectively, regular folk, including those on the Isles, could tell you next to nothing about the battle. And this was less than thirty years after the events. The idea of an ignorance of one's own history as being an 'American' thing is a false one. (Author Clive Cussler recounts a sobering personal experience in his non-fiction book, The Sea Hunters, where he was taken aback by some of his fellow Americans ― politicians in this case ― not knowing, or, more importantly, not even caring about their own history.)

Director Guy Hamilton, guiding light of Battle of Britain, claimed that United Artists lost ten million dollars (late 1960s currency) on the deal.

As a child what I liked was Battle's spectacle: The wide-screen; the colour; the music; the you-are-there vibe.

The now-defunct "Festival Theatres" repertory chain here in Toronto would screen the film every few years, and I would be there with interested friends.

As I've told people over the years, "Battle of Britain was my Star Wars."



Battle of Britain Day 2022: Battle of Britain (1969)

As part of a downsizing project [twelve] years ago I purged most of my pre-recorded VHS tapes. I've never been a big collector of movies ― my DVD library is fairly small ― but the fact is I had accumulated around 70 tapes:

Battle of Britain (1969) A troubled production complete with massive cost overruns and a shoot that seemed to have no end, this historical aviation epic provides some satisfaction for those movie fans who want to see a breed of filmmaking that will never be seen again. No film company today could afford to make a film like Battle of Britain, at least not one using exclusively the same production methods ― much of it would be done using fake CG fakery, by people who've never taken the time to see how an aircraft, like a Spitfire or Heinkel, twists and turns in the sky. (Try YouTube.) As far as the film as a film goes: It depends on whether the viewer can enjoy a 132-minute story about a critical moment of history. The Royal Air Force's warding off of the mighty German Luftwaffe during the summer of 1940.

What one sees are grand air battles and an abundance of name-actors (at that time, of course). Christopher Plummer, Susannah York, Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Curt Jurgens, Robert Shaw, and Trevor Howard are a few of those stars who play historical characters or 'average people' swept up in that pesky thing we humans almost never ask for but often get: War. In this case World War II.

A highlight of many: The Battle in the Air. It makes me a firm believer in cinema's capabilities.

Kudos must go to director Guy Hamilton (1922 - 2016) for giving a somewhat unwieldy story, one with necessary density, some personality; and for remembering the people, who are so often forgotten in these epics.



Battle of Britain Day 2022: Battle of Britain Day 1990

The poster said all I had to know. On September 15, 1990, there would be a celebration to remember on the River Thames. That of "Battle of Britain Day, 1990". This history buff did not plan my trip to coincide with the event, but I was in London, England, and would be around to attend the fireworks.

I stood among a large crowd on the river's south bank, metres upstream from Tower Bridge. The sky darkened, the vintage searchlights fired up, probing and irradiating a low cloud ceiling. All that was missing was the drone of unseen Heinkel, Dornier, and Junkers aircraft. The Blitz was terrible for London's denizens throughout the summer of 1940, so nobody was celebrating the act of war, but the repelling of invaders... German "Luftwaffe" bombers. (Since there had been no definitive and crippling blows to the Royal Air Force, necessary if Unternehmen Seelöwe [Operation Sea Lion], the invasion of England, was to have any chance of succeeding, Adolf Hitler lost interest and turned his attention to the east.)

Music blazed from sparking loudspeakers as fireworks of all colours and stripes rose streaking from a barge anchored to the sparkling waters before us. For many Brits here, this sight and sound must have been emotional. I too was feeling it: Composer Ron Goodwin's magnificent themes for the films Battle of Britain and 633 Squadron were the perfect accompaniment, and helped lift us all up high. (Aces High!)

That event was the 50th anniversary of the great battles fought in the skies over England. Now we're at 82.



Battle of Britain Day 2022: Final Thought for the Day



"Music blazed from sparking loudspeakers as fireworks of all colours and stripes rose streaking from a barge anchored to the sparkling waters before us. For many Brits here, this sight and sound must have been emotional."

― September of 1990, as I stood near the River Thames for a "Battle of Britain" 50th Anniversary commemoration.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

A Forever Question: It's in the Book

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. How could I forget that date?




Sunday, September 11, 2022

Sunday Fun: Balcony Buddy



I haven't seen him since the summer of last year. No doubt he's out explorin'!....

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Book: Star Trek - Phase II (Reeves-Stevens)



Star Trek - Phase II
 The Lost Series 

by
Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Pocket Books
1997

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Star Trek Premiered on CTV 56 Years Ago Today

I'm just old enough to have remembered Star Trek first airing but I must have missed it. Maybe my parents saw the trailer on CTV for the opening episode, "The Man Trap", and its great and scary monster, and made the decision to make sure I missed it.

CTV (Canadian Television) actually opened the series two days before NBC, on September 6, 1966, effectively the "world premiere".

The charade had to last but a few weeks: In October we left for West Germany, and I did not see the series on ZDF, ARD, or the two French channels. (However, I did watch the telefantasy series' Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Invaders, and The Prisoner on French and/or German television.) ZDF began running Trek in 1972, which I found out about a year ago.

I first saw Star Trek in June of 1970. My British cousins were watching it on BBC2 ― in colour ― and I joined them in silence while visiting.

Back here in Canada, CTV's flagship station, CFTO, began its long run of "stripping" Star Trek. In September of 1970 a regular Monday to Friday at 5 p.m. screening schedule started the magic for many of us. What is this exciting, striking, beautiful, and colourful show?, I must have pondered at the beginning as I got lost in Trek's vortex. This was a communal experience for many viewers, for in the syndication market it was a true "water cooler", certainly "water fountain", television series.

My own private joke regarding my own fandom: It was just five years ago that I bought the complete series on Blu-ray. Before that I had just odds and ends on VHS and DVD. As for the Blu-ray format, I've watched just one episode.

But I am a fan.

How many dramatic television programs are, or will be, remembered fifty-six years after they hit the video airwaves?

Perhaps I should pop on "The Man Trap" this evening....
















Me on the Difference in Canadians and Americans

"Canadians go through life without feeling a need for a publicist."

Crude in its generalization, and meant with a fair degree of levity playing on the stereotypes, but some might run with it. (I've been told there are no differences.)




Monday, September 5, 2022

Book: The Lives of the Great Composers (Schonberg)



The Lives of the Great Composers
- Third Edition -

by
Harold C. Schonberg

Abacus
1998

A Forever Question: The Shape?

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Why does Sammy Sausage sell wieners?




Sunday, September 4, 2022

DVD: The Beatles - Get Back



The Beatles - Get Back

by
Peter Jackson

Apple Corps Ltd
2022

Book: Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8 (Zimmerman)



Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8
― The First Manned Flight to Another World ―

by
Robert Zimmerman

Dell Publishing
1998

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Super Star Trump Trek

Like many people I was amused by the Trump Team's application of a term to 'rationalize' results which most of us would claim otherwise to be of incontrovertible facts. (Reality.) The term exploded: "Alternative Facts." (Actually, this phrase is quoted by George Orwell in his classic dystopian book Nineteen Eighty-Four, first published in 1949. I have that book on my shelf; about five feet from where I'm sitting. Time to reread Nineteen Eighty-Four.)

It later occurred to me that there is an episode of the first Star Trek series titled "The Alternative Factor". Mulling over the hilarity of the whole concept of Alternative Facts, I decided to look up the names of other episodes in that classic television series to see how they might be affixed to The Donald, 45th president of the United States of America.

(Many of Star Trek's episode titles were culled from lines in Shakespeare's plays.)

It was too easy. There were a few titles I didn't bother scribbling jokey comments about, and one in particular I would not touch. After reviewing my notes I trimmed my list down to 30 titles.

The episode name (and my attempt at humour):

Where No Man Has Gone Before (he insists)
The Enemy Within (there is that)
Shore Leave (we're going to need it)
Tomorrow is Yesterday (according to "alternative facts")
A Taste of Armageddon (he will give us)
The Alternative Factor (Trump's television show after his presidency)
The City on the Edge of Forever (and it needs new towers! Forever!)
Operation: Annihilate! (commencing operation)
Amok Time (it sure is)
Mirror, Mirror (in that universe there is a Donald with a goatee)
The Apple ("no it's not, it's a banana")
The Doomsday Machine (is titled the biography)
Metamorphosis (Trump turns into a butterfly; but it's all a dream)
The Deadly Years (is titled a chapter in the biography)
The Trouble With Tribbles ("they were imported and weren't taxed?")
The Immunity Syndrome (he suffers)
A Private Little War (on Twitter)
By Any Other Name (a rose is still a banana)
And the Children Shall Lead (and yes they shall)
Is There In Truth No Beauty? (how about "In Lying"?)
Day of the Dove (now outlawed)
For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky (believe it all)
The Tholian Web ("if the Tholians can build a web I can build a wall!")
Plato's Stepchildren (of many, many "steps")
The Empath (Trump isn't in this episode; replaced by a character named "Clinton")
Wink of an Eye (go your social programs)
Whom Gods Destroy (allegedly Trump's favourite title)
Let That Be Your Last Battlefield ("never!....never!")
Requiem for Methuselah ("a disaster!....disaster!")
All Our Yesterdays (hold onto them, for dear life!)


Tuesday Morning Too Early (from 2018)

Listening to the business report:

"... shares sold to Facebook."

Maybe it's my coffee, maybe it's combining with this early hour, but I heard this: "two-face book."

I'm not on that social media platform, but I'm sure some Facebook users would understand my miss-hear.


Monday, August 29, 2022

Sketch: Students' Mess



University and college students will be returning very soon to start a new school year. For some this will be their first time away from home.

The above I sketched just weeks after arriving here in Toronto to start film school. No, it's not my mess but my roommate's. No doubt my own personalized mess is safely behind my sketchbook.

A Forever Question: Dang!

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. What if the wrong way is the right way?




Friday, August 26, 2022

Two Little Boys Liked One Big Monster

The combination of Godzilla and Toho film studios makes for a formidable tag team. The famous Japanese production complex is so synonymous with the rubber-made monster that it's hard to believe that it actually has produced non monster movies.

However, the purpose of this piece is to go for the studio's biggest star: Godzilla.

In the late summer of 1988 I became friends with a chap who had been living in the same building as me for four years. We hit it off right away once we decided to converse with one another. He, Richard, was in the midst of his physics master's degree program at the University of Toronto, and I, a recent film-school graduate, was working very occassionally as a designer on films and television commercials.

How tickled I was when he told me that he was a big fan of the Godzilla pictures.

A pot of tea, a bowl of unhealthy potato chips, two geeks in front of a VCR-powered television set: Godzilla; Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster; Godzilla vs. Mothra; King Kong vs. Godzilla; Destroy All Monsters; Godzilla, 1985; you get the picture.

Richard earned his PhD, and I stomped around in the film and television business.


Monday, August 22, 2022

A Forever Question: Destination Earth

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. It's not of this Sol-3?



Saturday, August 20, 2022

Back to School Gadgetry

Something I heard minutes ago: "Back to school gadgets."

Back to school gadgets? When I was in elementary school the only thing that might have qualified as a back to school gadget was a pencil case (there was a zipper that moved), or, even better, the protractor inside it (I could adjust the instrument's spread).

Actually, there was, and still is, the combination padlock for the school locker. It was cool: after closing the lock you could open it again just by spinning the center spinny thingy in the right directions and in the right increments.

Some things stay the same. Even with great advancements in technology.


Next: My Texas Instruments T-1250 pocket electronic calculator. (Just $25.00 ― in 1975 currency.)



Tuesday, August 16, 2022

A Forever Question: Again?

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. What's the best question one can ask without asking a question?



Flyer: Advanced Cinematography Workshop (Toronto)

On Thursday, August 4th, I wrote about an Advanced Cinematography Workshop to be held here in Toronto this coming weekend. Yesterday, course instructor Francois Aubry sent me the latest flyer....

Click to enlarge



Advanced Cinematography Workshop

Location:
The Redwood Theatre
1300 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, ON  M4L 1Y7

When:
August 20, 21

Where:
Saturday (studio space)
Sunday (main stage)

Time:
9am to 6pm

Other:
Lunch, coffee and snacks provided

Info: 416-844-5331